Nitric oxide is an important regulator of vascular tone in the pulmonary circulation. Surgical correction of congenital heart disease limits pulmonary hypertension to a brief period. The study has measured expression of endothelial (eNOS), inducible (iNOS), and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (nNOS) in the lungs from biopsies of infants with pulmonary hypertension secondary to cardiac abnormalities (n = 26), compared to a control group who did not have pulmonary or cardiac disease (n = 8). eNOS, iNOS and nNOS were identified by immunohistochemistry and quantified in specific cell types. Significant increases of eNOS and iNOS staining were found in pulmonary vascular endothelial cells of patients with congenital heart disease compared to control infants. These changes were confined to endothelial cells and not present in other cell types. Patients who strongly expressed eNOS also had strong expression of iNOS.
Upregulation of eNOS and iNOS occurs at an early stage of pulmonary hypertension, and may be a compensatory mechanism limiting the rise in pulmonary artery pressure.
- chronic hypoxia